Wizards, vampires, and teenagers. Oh my!
NPR polled 75,220 people to vote for their favorite young adult novel from a list of 235 books that an expert panel of judges had winnowed down from a whopping 1,200 submissions.
The final 100 contained some usual suspects (To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye) and some surprises (YA author John Green wrote five separate winners, including The Fault in Our Stars, at number four).
Though “young adult” today brings to mind Edward Cullen and his vampiric flock, the category encompasses some books whose reach extends far beyond high school English classrooms.
J.R.R. Tolkien, unsurprisingly, nabbed two spots in the top 10, while Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 came in at number 8 and the Anne of Green Gables series placed at a respectable number 14.
Entries ranged from the new (the Twilight series, The Hunger Games series), to the classic (The Call of the Wild, Judy Blume’s Forever…) to the somewhere-in-between (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series).
As NPR’s Petra Mayer noted in a blog post, the young adult category has somewhat nebulous boundaries. While the ages of young adult readers were defined as being between 12 and 18, additional requirements were more hazy. Most winners of the prestigious Newbery Medal were excluded, for example, as the award is given to children’s books. Other novels that featured teenaged characters, like Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game, were barred from consideration because of their more mature content.
NPR’s panel was comprised of four young adult experts: Pamela Paul, features editor and children’s book editor at The New York Times Book Review; Diane Roback, children’s book editor of Publishers Weekly and the editor of PW‘s Children’s Bookshelf e-newsletter; Tasha Robinson, book editor of The A.V. Club and curator of the A.V. Club’s “YA Why?” blog; and Ted Schelvan, a teacher librarian at Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground, Wash.
Click here to see the full list.